Entertaining is one of my most favourite pastimes – not only the social gathering and treasured time to catch up with friends, I love the chance to play with different design themes for the event. Whether you’re planning an intimate dinner for two, or playing hostess-with-the-mostess for a group, nailing your tabletop style is key. More than just the meal, entertaining in style is all about the little details.
While in years past there were structured themes, palettes and overall directions that guided the “what’s hot” of tabletop design, this year we are seeing a much more creative flow with an overall eclectic vibe as we move into entertaining season. Colours, patterns and motifs are wildly mixed for the modern table, with the general feeling that “anything goes”, as long as you go for it. It’s all about playing with vibrancy and textiles to tell your own dinnertime story; not the time to shy away from bold choices, we’ve created a cheat sheet to help you tackle the essentials for today’s dinner, designed.
1. Cover Your Bases:
A stellar tabletop starts from the bottom up: while a bare table can be chic, a big impact setting begins with a statement tablecloth. With nearly every palette and pattern imaginable available, this is an ultra easy way to add some dinner drama. This moody textile from Capra Designs’ Rocky Road Collection instantly adds personality to the table with it’s saturated palette, yet keeps it causal with its 100% linen makeup. The bonus of opting for a linen or cotton cloth is the cleanup – it’s a no-fuss, ‘throw it in the wash when guests leave’ scenario. Yes, please.
2. Go Natural:
While the usual go-to for everyone when thinking about dinnerware is porcelain or stoneware, this is an easy area to amp up your style by thinking outside the box; choosing unexpected materials for your dishes creates an extra layer of intention to your table setting. Options like these teak carved plates from Southbound Living are an ideal choice as we move into the cooler months, as the warmth and natural heaviness of the wood starts to set the mood for a seasonal gathering.
3. Horse (or, monkey…) Around:
Just when it’s starting to feel a little serious, throw in an element of surprise. I love using mismatched dinnerware sets to spark a conversation, and these West Elm Dapper Animal series serving ware fit the bill perfectly. Using a bold colour way or motif for side plates to contrast your main setting is an easy way to introduce vibrancy and personality without committing to purchasing a full set of dishes you may want to swap out down the road. As with decor, keep your main pieces more neutral and let your (easily interchangeable) accessories take a walk on the wild side.
4. Go For Gold, Baby:
Even your flatware is an opportunity to keep your tabletop style on point. Gone are the days of basic brushed nickel – today’s cutlery ranges from the full palette spectrum to all the metallics. I usually like to stick to the golds, as it adds an upscale element to even the most playful table, but for a softer twist the rose gold or copper palette, like this set from West Elm, is a beautiful addition to almost any tablescape.
5. Soften Up:
While cloth napkins may seem like a thing of generations past, nothing puts a rough edge on a stellar meal like a paper napkin. Choosing proper, soft textiles for your serviettes allows your guests to have an elevated dining experience, and also provides you with an opportunity to play with even more tabletop style. Again, look for an uncoordinated pattern from your dinnerware set to keep the mood fresh – a tried and true go-to is a classic black and white stripe, like these Wheaton Stripe Napkins from Pottery Barn.
6. Drink Up to Double Duty:
With all the rules for stemware seemingly out the window these days (seriously, even some high end spots are serving expensive vino in a basics rocks glass), it opens the door for some seriously playful drinking. Using unexpected vessels for beverages not only takes the pressure off whether you’ve correctly selected your stemware for the occasion, but is also allows for that mix-and-match principle to come back into play. These artistic porcelain cups from Koh Living – available in a variety of stunning motifs – are sold as both votive cups for candles as well as distinct drink ware collections to further the wild side of your tabletop design, however you choose to incorporate them.